15 July 2014

Labour's Road to Defeat

Ed Miliband's Third Way to Electoral Disaster

Miliband - torn between support for capitalism and the need for a radical manifesto
There are times when you see someone walking headlong over the cliff and  you feel bound to try and prevent the inevitable disaster.  Such is the case with Ed Miliband’s catastrophic misleadership of the Labour Party.

The policy pronouncements of Miliband’s rump New Labour Party have been touted as ‘radical’ and appealing to the many not the few.  In reality they are disjointed prounouncements lacking any binding theme or message.
Miliband with the old war criminal - Labour has failed to dissociate itself from  US policy worldwide
It is perfectly possible for a radical and reformist Labour Party to be elected with a majority, as Harold Wilson demonstrated.  It is also possible for a reactionary New Labour Party to be elected, once it convinces capital it poses no threat to the capitalist system, as Tony Blair demonstrated.  What isn’t possible is a New Labour Party, making radical noises but promising to change nothing, quite the contrary, to be elected on a mandate to change nothing.

One might have hoped that Miliband would get the message of today’s Mori Opinion Poll which gives the Tories a 1% lead and puts the Lib Dems on double figures (12%).  Yet one suspects that like an inveterate drunk, Miliband’s response will be to reach for one last drink.
Trying to convince himself of some point
Forget his alleged unpopularity.  This is the fate of all opposition leaders, as Thatcher demonstrated.  People are quite pre pared to put the froth of political punditry aside if the politics of the party connects.  The problem is that Miliband is promising nothing.  There will be a temporary 20 month freeze on fuel prices but the water and utility companies will continue to remain in private hands.  Miliband promises to repeal the bedroom tax but supports Welfare ‘Reform’ which is a conjuring trick designed to transfer wealth from the poorest in society to the richest.

In short Miliband shies away from challenging those who hold financial, economic and political power in this society.  Instead we have pathetic stunts such as being photographed holding a copy of the Sun before the World Cup.  That Murdoch’s press stable should be anathema to anyone with an affiliation to the labour movement is beyond Miliband’s comprehension.
At least his shadow cabinet (Sadiq Khan) support him - at the moment
There is a very simple theme which could unify people around Miliband and consign New Labour to the scrapheap.  It is the fact that the top 1% of British society owns 55% of the wealth.  A promise to tackle this mountain of injustice and to pledge that the paying off of Britain’s debts is the responsibility of those who are most able to pay, not the poorest in society, would galvanise support for Labour.

Miliband has promises to cap rail prices but has shied away from the most obvious solution – to take back control of rail from the privateers.  What you don’t own you cannot control.  Yet there is a fear of confronting the Richard Bransons of this world.  Likewise Miliband has nothing to say about the creeping privatisation of the NHS or ‘Free’ schools.

Another example of Miliband’s half-hearted approach is/was  his suggestion that private tenants would have the protection of 3 year tenancies and capped rents.   Such a move would prove immensely popular given the growth in private renting as house prices have relentlessly continued to rise.  Yet the anguished howls of those who prefer to maximise their buy-to-let ‘investments’ have warned Miliband off.  Contrast this with Harold Wilson’s protection of private unfurnished tenants.

The fact that all 3 major parties have so few political differences should make the task of a united socialist left that much easier.  But the shenanigans of Left Unity and the esoteric nature of its debates have ensured that the group continues to inhabit the  margins of political influence.

It is of course possible that despite himself, Miliband's Labour will become the largest party.  If the largest and most influential companies refuse to back the Tories because of the danger of a withdrawal from the European Union, then Miliband's Labour might win despite itself. However this scenario is unlikely and certainly not something to rely on.

Tony Greenstein

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